Bellevue School District took part in the worldwide celebration of Unity Day on Oct. 21.  This is the district’s fourth year celebrating the event, which educates students about anti-bullying and how to reach out, speak up and be a friend to one another.  Students and staff were encouraged to wear orange to raise awareness of anti-bullying.

Across the district, students participated in assemblies and other activities to learn more about what unity looks like and the meaning of the day.

“Unity Day is important because it’s a day to encourage each other to be against bullying,” said Spiritridge fifth grader Anya Yu.

During Spiritridge’s assembly the students watched videos that featured other school-aged kids talking about bullying and the impact of bullying.  Fifth grade student Eunice Lee said that she related to the videos because it was people her age talking about bullying.  Lee said, “Unity Day is important because it’s actually telling students how you can change.”

Students learn more and understand the day better as they experience Unity Day each year.  Fifth grader Reid Tomko knows the value of Unity Day for the school’s student body.

“My favorite part of Unity Day is the assembly because it really helps the younger kids and everybody with a helpful reminder that we should all try to be kind to each other,” said Tomko.  “It really helps people realize we can speak up and we can reach out.”

Each class at Spiritridge also signed a paper cutout of the letters U-N-I-T-Y-!  Tomko’s class signed the exclamation point.  “I kind of think of it as a pledge to try to unite each other,” he said.

Many schools in the district, including Spiritridge, are also participating in Project Connect this year, which launched on Unity Day.  This is a campaign in which students and staff create a unity chain by writing on orange strips of paper anytime a classmate speaks up, reaches out, or is a friend.  The strips of paper will be linked together, and ultimately placed in the school’s hallways to see how long the chain can be.  It will be a visual representation of all the great things that are happening in each building.

“I think the chain is a very good idea because making goals in the school really helps kids accomplish things,” said Tomko.  “Because I think if we have a goal kids will be a lot more motivated to help out!”

Spiritridge Principal Scott Hetherington gave students visual motivation with what he has seen at other schools: wrapping the chain around the cafeteria five times, or around a high school football field six times.

“We’re all a little bit different, and that’s what makes it awesome,” said Hetherington.  “If we work together in unity, we can do great things in this world.”

Unity day is sponsored by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.